Monday, July 7, 2008

Who Are We?

"A hive mind buzzing with ideas, as it were, but inside a single skull."
The Economist, "The Crowd Within," June 28, 2008

First came the Nudge -- behavioral economic's thinking and research about the limits of rational decision-making -- and how we could use some help.

Then came our propensity for "self justification," catalogued in Mistakes Were Made (but not by me). We don't like holding contradictory ideas that get in the way of our silly selves.

Now the "crowd within" keeps guessing different answers if given the time. Kwame Anthony Appiah, in Experiments in Ethics, writes in a chapter about the dubious assumption that human's have a consistent character capable of being trained in virtue. That is, am I the same person who wakes up and yells at the dog, does walking meditation to the train station, daydreams bad thoughts about the cell phone user, restrains himself from hitting "reply all," and lovingly bakes pies with his daughter

We are indeed "crooked timber" in the words of Isaiah Berlin and I feel both fear and empathy about our human folly.

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